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Greg Laughlin, ANDS Principal Policy Adviser

To derive the best value from data, there needs to be aligned institutional and national research data policies. In this edition we will cover three areas of policy already touched on in previous issues.

Review of the Code for Responsible Conduct of Research

High on ANDS’ list of important policy initiatives is the review of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, which was reported on in Share 28.

ANDS made a submission to the review, focusing on Principle 3: Transparency in declaring interests and reporting research methodologies and findings. This was worded (at the time): “Research methodology, research findings and knowledge will be shared and communicated openly”.

ANDS provided advice about the desirability of expanding the scope and definition of Principle 3 to explicitly include the sharing and communicating of data outputs.

The Code Review Committee – which involves Universities Australia, Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – also announced the development of a series of new guides to support the Code, including one on research data, its management, communication and sharing, which involved ANDS.

Data Availability and Use report

The Productivity Commission (PC) has released its report on Data Availability and Use. This weighty report (650 pages) is not for the faint-hearted. It proposes sweeping reforms to the data availability agenda, backed by detailed arguments and analysis, especially in terms of costs and charging regimes by the various sectors. The Sax Institute has published an excellent summary of the proposed reforms.

In terms of research data, the PC has called for all institutions and funders (ARC, NHMRC and beyond) to make research data/metadata widely available, and to report routinely (and proactively) on how effective the sharing and reuse has been.

The Australian Government has responded to the PC report by forming a Data Availability and Use Taskforce, which will be the main vehicle for the Government’s response. The Taskforce provides an opportunity to finally link all of the data availability and reuse initiatives in this country, as reported in recent Share articles.